Slovakia – Who built it? What was it for? How old it actually is? You will probably have these and many other questions when you´ll see it. Unfortunately, there are not many trustworthy answers to comfort your curiosity. Slovak Chinese Wall, Giants´ Rampart or Fossa Giganteum – name it as you wish, is one of the biggest historical enigmas of Slovakia.
Where giant fought gods
Remains of the mysterious 2-3 meters tall and 2-15 meters wide rampart mark 60 kilometers long line from Sitno peak (Central Slovakia) to the river Danube on the contemporary borderline between Slovakia and Hungary. But some historians believe it could be much longer – or even branched, as suggest some splitting sections around the city of Levice. Time, weather, geo-seismic activities and agricultural intrusions make it impossible to determine how exactly did the wall look when it was built.
Its age also remains popular subject of wild speculations. Some believe it must be prehistoric (at least 7000 years old) while well-known Slovak mystery-solver and amateur historian Ján Hurník even states it could be the oldest human construction in the world- older than Egyptian pyramids! He goes far enough to connect this Slovak rampart with the old Icelandic eddas (legends), as he believes this is the mythic wall Vingrid built by the giant Surtr who fought with the gods, as it is described in the Song of Vafþrúðnir.
Even thought this theory might provoke an understandable grin of disbelieve on our faces, some details suits it surprisingly well. For example, it’s the similarity of various geographical names from the legend and real Slovakia (“land of giants” Varinsfjord vs Slovak village of Varín located near the proposed northern end of the wall; southern end of the wall in the myth called Sagafjord vs city of Šahy, known earlier as Saag near the real southern end of the wall, etc.).
Destroyed by great fire?
It probably won´t surprise you to hear that Mr. Hurník´s theory didn´t earn much acclaim in the scientific circles. According to most accounts, the wall could actually be dated back “only” to the Middle bronze age (1600 – 1200 BC).This might connect it with the Middle-danubian culture of burial mounds and it could also be supported by many archaeological findings in the area, which consist mostly of the stone tools and axes. Other theory that has gained some popularity among historians is that the rampart could have been built during the Roman era – around the 4th century AD.
Uncertain age of this building results from unsuccessful attempts to date its materials. It varies from stone through brown and black soils with different magnetic features to the remains of burned materials like wood. Burned parts of the wall became a big phenomenon among those who are trying to solve this mystery – the whole wall is sometimes nicknamed as “baked” and there is even one village nearby called Pečenice (“Bakeville”). The theory that this wall was burned down in an unprecedented fire is very likely.
At least one piece of this historical puzzle can be interpreted by the hard evidence – there is a real giant who stands behind the nickname Giants´ rampage! He was a 205 centimeters tall warrior from the era of mighty Avars and his remains were found in the ancient graveyard not far away from the wall itself.